*** SPOILER ALERT!!! This post contains spoilers about Covert Affairs all seasons, especially the resolution of Season 4. This post also contains spoilers about 24 Season 5. ***
In just over 2 weeks, Covert Affairs returns to USA Network television. I have been a CA fan from the beginning. For the first two years, it was a lovely fluff show that filled in the summer doldrums. Piper Perabo revealed she really does have brains, as well as an excellent facility for languages, something I deeply respect. Then, Season 3 blew the entire show wide open, allowing Annie’s character more complexity and depth, moving Covert Affairs easily into my top ten favourites list. Last season kept up the pace, but upped the ante significantly in terms of the danger Annie faces and the depth her character must encompass.
This season, starting Tuesday, the 24th June at 10:00pm EST on USA, will be the deciding season for the longevity of the show. Season 4 was clearly an attempt to raise the stakes after the success of Season 3, and it was most successful. However, it created a distinct problem for the future of the show: how do the writers continue to make each season more high stakes than the last, when they have already made Annie into the hidden assassin of the corrupt director of the CIA? To make a Season 5 that blows Season 4 out of the water the way 4 blew 3 away is a risky business, one that could easily fall into the trap that 24 fell into, of absolutely unrealistic and impossible situations that ultimately kill the show.
As I see it, the show can go one of two directions at this point:
1) Covert Affairs will attempt to continuously out-do itself until it has become the biggest joke of a television spy-thriller since 24 made the President a terrorist,
OR (and we hope it will be this one!)
2) Covert Affairs will use season 5 to redefine itself again, as it did in Season 3, and create a plan going forward for a sustainable, long-term TV show with believable and gripping plot, but without losing the show’s Heart.
Recently, USA Network has created several teasers, one of which gives me hope for the new season following choice 2 above, though I am not without concerns. Nic Bishop will be joining the show as Annie’s new partner, Ryan McQuaid. This does indicate a new direction on the part of the writers: previously, they had been building Annie as more and more self-reliant and distrustful, a loner who needed her independence to survive. The introduction of the partner could be a way of taking the show in a new direction in terms of Annie’s development, as well as a shift away from continuing to pursue ‘conspiracy within the government’ storylines. Of course, if it turns out this Ryan McQuaid is a double agent, then that’s not so much of a change after all.
However, I am nervous at the lack of Auggie in these promos– this Ryan character isn’t replacing him, right? Because I may not be able to watch any more if there’s no Auggie! It’s not just that I like the character, or that I find Christopher Gorham exceedingly hot. Auggie is the heart of this show, and he creates all the Heart that we feel. When Auggie’s worried about Annie, we are, too. When Annie loves him but can’t show it, we are pulled deeper into these characters lives. Without Auggie, the show would be about Annie, Joan, and Arthur, and that wouldn’t make good TV.
I will go into the Season 5 opener on the 24th with bated breath and crossed fingers, hoping that the writers, directors, and producers will have been smart and thoughtful in their craft. I predict we will know the shape of things to come by the end of the third episode this season. Let’s hope that Covert Affairs has a long and promising future in store for us.